Aside from the beautiful beaches and peaceful life that Coral Bay has to offer, the biggest attraction lies beneath the surface of the ocean. The Ningaloo Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is well worth the several hour drive. Here you can enjoy some of the best diving and snorkeling in the world, surrounded by a colorful coral reef teeming with marine life.
Not surprisingly, the best things to do in Coral Bay revolve almost exclusively around water activities. Whether you want to swim with sharks and manta rays, see whales at sunset or laze on the white sand, Coral Bay is an ocean lover’s paradise just waiting to be explored.
How to get from Perth to Coral Bay
Distance / travel time – 1,121 km / 11 h 30 min.
By car – The long drive from Perth to Coral Bay takes longer each day. However, a better idea would be to spread the trip over 10 days along the west coast and include other stops like Calbarry, Shark Bay and Exmouth. Don’t forget to check out our 10 day Perth to Exmouth itinerary so you don’t miss a thing!
Flying – If you don’t want to travel long distances, flying might be the best option for you. Qantas offers scheduled flights from Perth to Exmouth (Learmonth Airport). Search for flights on the official Quantas website. The transfer from Lirmont Airport to Coral Bay takes about 1.5 hours and can be arranged through this website.
Best time to visit Coral Bay
Looking for some winter sun? Coral Bay has sunny weather all year round, making it an ideal winter destination. While it starts to cool down in Perth and the rest of the southwest region from April to September, Coral Bay enters the dry season and maintains a consistent daily average of 30 degrees during these months.
In summer, from October to March, Coral Bay reaches temperatures of 30 to even 40 degrees, with high humidity. This is definitely the best choice if you are planning a trip during the dry season (when it is winter in Perth).
How long will you be staying at Coral Bay
As beautiful as the beaches are here, it’s not a place you go just to sit on the beach. There is so much to do in Coral Bay that you can easily keep yourself busy for a whole week. However, it is quite possible to sit on the beach without any judgment! For the perfect holiday, we recommend spending 5 days to a week at Coral Bay.
Where to stay in Coral Bay
Coral Bay Resort / Villa rental
Ningaloo Reef Resort is the most comfortable resort-style accommodation when you visit Coral Bay. With spacious air-conditioned rooms, a pool, restaurant and bar overlooking the ocean, you really can’t go wrong here! This resort becomes extremely popular in high season, so booking early is essential.
People’s Park – This beach park has several villas for rent, some of which even have ocean views. It is just steps away from the main beach and shops of Coral Bay. The villas are fully equipped with kitchens, but there is also a restaurant on site. This is a great option for a family.
Bayview – Large caravan park that also rents out some villas. Each room has a private bathroom and some have a kitchenette. There is a restaurant, but the Coral Bay shopping center is across the street and the beach is just a 2-minute walk away.
Holiday resorts / Coral Bay Youth Hostel
People’s Park Campground – Clean, well-maintained campground just off the main beach, with or without dining facilities.
Bayview Campground is the largest campground in Coral Bay, with a wide variety of sites with and without meals.
Ningaloo Coral Bay Backpackers is the only hostel in town. It is air-conditioned, has a private pool and offers a choice of dormitories or private rooms with shared bathroom facilities.
Wilderness camping at Coral Bay
If you have a 4×4, this part of WA offers fantastic off-road driving and wonderful wilderness camping. There is nothing in the world that makes you feel more disconnected than camping on a remote beach, miles from civilization.
We have tried many over the years and here are some of the places we can recommend. Visit the WA Parks website to book a wilderness camping trip. Remember that to camp in these areas you must be completely self-sufficient, there are no toilets or other facilities. These seats are not allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, you must reserve online in advance.
- Beach 14-Mile – Varrura Resort
- Camp Nika – Varrura Station.
- El Beach – Varrura Station
- Winderabandi – Ningaloo Station
- Osprey Bay – Cape Range National Park.
Top 10 things to do in Coral Bay, Western Australia
Coral Bay Snorkeling Tours
A visit to the famous Great Barrier Reef, in the far north of Queensland, is on the list of must-sees on any trip to Australia. The Ningaloo Reef is often called the Great Western Reef. Equally impressive, but still largely unknown to tourists, which makes it even more attractive.
Snorkeling and diving at Ningaloo Reef are by far the most popular activities in Coral Bay. With an abundance of wildlife including manta rays, whale sharks, turtles, reef sharks and many colorful fish, this day is sure to be the highlight of your trip to Coral Bay. Below are some of the top rated snorkeling trips in Coral Bay.
Marine Eco-safari – Swimming with Manta rays
This day trip leaves at 8am by boat from Coral Bay and takes you to some of the best snorkeling spots on the Ningaloo Reef. Enjoy a full day of swimming with the incredible marine life that inhabits the reef, including the star of the show, the manta ray!
This tour uses a spotter plane that flies in search of manta rays, so you are guaranteed to see a few. Manta rays are present in the area all year round, which means that no matter what time of year you decide to visit the area, you will always have the chance to see them!
On our last visit to Coral Bay, this tour was the best thing we did. I joined a snorkeling group, while Rick chose to snorkel, but we were on the same boat/tour for the day, which was perfect. Seeing the majestic manta rays up close was an unreal experience that we will never forget!
This tour includes snorkel equipment, experienced guides, morning and afternoon snacks, buffet lunch, 3x different snorkel sites, 1x manta ray swim. The tour is organized by Coral Bay Eco Tours and takes about 6 hours. We cannot recommend this day trip enough, it was worth every penny.
Check prices and availability of visits here
Whale shark swim in Coral Bay
Between March and July you have the chance to see these gentle giants swimming peacefully around the Ningaloo Reef. This 8-9 hour boat trip departs at 7:30am and takes you on an epic snorkel tour through a spectacular coral reef where you will see turtles, reef sharks and a variety of beautiful fish.
The best part of this trip is of course the unique opportunity to swim with whale sharks! A surprise plane is used to locate the whale sharks and inform the captain of the boat of their position. You will have an hour to enjoy the presence of the largest fish in the ocean – a true experience that few places in the world offer.
This incredible whale shark tour is also offered by Coral Bay Eco Tours. It includes all snorkeling equipment, morning and afternoon snacks, buffet lunch, champagne and fruit platter, one hour swim with whale sharks and snorkeling at various locations on Ningaloo Reef. For an additional fee, you can have an underwater photographer swim with you to capture this magical moment.
Check prices and availability of visits here
Encounter with the Ningaloo reef turtle
Turtles can be seen year round at Ningaloo Reef. This popular 3-hour tour takes you by glass bottom boat to the best places to see turtles swimming in their natural habitat. Learn all about these fascinating sea creatures from your expert guide as you watch them feed and go about their business.
In addition to turtles, this boat offers an array of exotic fish, colorful coral and beautiful underwater scenery. The trip also includes the opportunity to snorkel in two different places if you wish. All snorkeling equipment, hot drinks and snacks are provided and included in the price of the day trip.
Check prices and availability of visits here
Relaxation day on the beach
Coral Bay is home to some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches and is a must for a relaxing day at the beach. The sand is soft and white, the water is calm and clear and there is an incredible coral reef just metres from the shore. To say that this place is a true paradise is an understatement.
So grab a good book, a mask and snorkel and head to the city’s main beach for an unforgettable day at the beach. While you’re there, be sure to walk 20 minutes up the beach to the next bay. This bay is a protected shark nursery where at certain times of the year you can witness the magical spectacle of up to 200 reef sharks swimming in the shallow waters of the bay!
If you come here between September and March, there are often sharks in the bay during that time. We were in Coral Bay in early September and we saw hundreds of them! It should be noted that it is forbidden to approach sharks and swim with them.
This is a protected area with signs warning not to come into contact with the sharks (we did see a few ignorant people jump into the water and ignore the signs!) The best way to see the sharks is from the shore, they are surprisingly close.
Humpback whales migrate along the WA coast and can be seen in the Coral Bay area from June to October each year. During this 3-hour whale watching excursion on a boat, you will have an intimate relationship with these playful whales. Relax with a glass of champagne and some snacks in the comfort of the boat as you watch mothers and their babies climb onto the boat and make their way through the water.
It is likely that you will see other marine animals during this trip: turtles, dolphins and other whale species are not uncommon. If you prefer to get even closer to the humpback whales, you should check out this incredible humpback whale swimming experience offered by the same tour company.
Check prices and availability for the 3-hour whale watching tour.
Obtaining a diving licence
If diving has always been on your wish list, there are few better places in the world to do it than Ningaloo Reef. Whether you are a first timer or just want to brush up on your current diving certification, at Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel you will find diving courses at all levels.
If you are interested in diving but do not wish to take part in a course, you have the option of making a trial dive. Here an experienced instructor will take you swimming with a manta ray and show you the basics of diving. This is only an introduction to diving and does not count towards your PADI certification.
For more information on how to register and book a dive course, visit the official Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel website. All dive courses include dive equipment, as well as lunch and drinks on the boat. If you already have a diving license and just want to book a day trip to dive, you can do so on the same website.
Round trip on glass bottom boat
Snorkeling and diving are not for everyone, but the good news is that you don’t have to venture underwater to enjoy the underwater world of Ningaloo Reef. See the beautiful coral formations and the animals that live there from the comfort of your glass bottom boat.
This is a short excursion of one hour for those who want to admire the underwater world without getting wet. The guide will take you to a shallow part of the reef where you can see an abundance of colourful fish and give you a detailed explanation of what you are looking at.
Check prices and availability for the glass bottom boat tour.
Coral Bay Quad Tours
Get off the beaten track in Coral Bay for a unique and exciting mountain biking adventure. The coastline of Coral Bay is a remote wonder, and these mountain bike tours will take you to some of the most pristine and unspoiled beaches, dunes and viewpoints. There are several tours to choose from, but you can’t go wrong with any of them!
The turtle adventure takes you to a viewing platform where you can watch the turtles feed in the turquoise water below. The Sunset Trek is a great way to end a perfect day, traveling along the most beautiful beaches to an epic sunset location. The snorkeling tour takes you to some of the best snorkeling spots, away from the crowds, on the main beach of Coral Bay.
Tours start several times a day and each tour lasts about 2 hours. For more information on prices and booking times, visit the official Quad Trek Adventures website.
Fishing is a very popular activity in Coral Bay and if you are interested, it may be a good idea to book a fishing trip. From Coral Bay, daily fishing charters depart for a half or full day under the guidance of experienced skippers who will take you to the best spots.
Some of the fish you can expect to see in this area are blue marlin, black marlin, mackerel, sailfish, dolphinfish, trout, snapper, cod and many more. Fishing equipment such as rods, bait and tackle are provided and included in the price of the day trip. Visit the Mahi Mahi Fishing Charters website for more information on these trips and to book your fishing trip.
See the Ningaloo Reef from a different perspective on a panoramic flight. It is a fantastic way to see the breathtaking scenery of the coral coast and the many animals that swim and play in the sea below. The tour is led by experienced pilots who will show you around Coral Bay and explain everything along the way.
On this flight you will see dolphins, manta rays, dugongs, sharks, turtles, humpback whales and whale sharks (seasonal). This is such a unique and memorable event that it is a great idea to celebrate a special occasion. You can book a flight of 15, 25, 40 or 60 minutes. Prices vary according to the duration of the course.
You can book a sightseeing flight online at Ningaloo Reef Dive & Snorkel.
Kayak, SUP or water scooter
On the main beach of Coral Bay, at the other end of the main road, you will find a caravan called Ningaloo Kayak Adventures where you can rent various equipment. The calm waters of Coral Bay are an ideal place to try paddling, kayaking or jet skiing for the first time.
You can rent one of the outfits for a day and go it alone or join one of the suggested tours. Their kayak tours are very popular and provide a fun day kayaking around the reef and snorkeling in many places. Visit their website for more information on prices, tours and beach equipment rentals.
Trips to Exmouth
If you are planning a longer stay in Coral Bay, be sure to visit Exmouth. The journey from Coral Bay to Exmouth is only an hour and a half, making it an ideal location for a day trip from Coral Bay or even to extend your trip north.
Exmouth is just a small town, but there are many fantastic things to see and do here that make this trip worthwhile. Below are some of the best attractions in Exmouth.
Charles Knife Canyon – Just off the main road from Coral Bay to Exmouth is a winding road that takes you to this incredible canyon. At the end of the hike, you’ll arrive at the Charles Knife Lookout, but there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the views along the way.
The view of Exmouth Bay through the colorful canyon walls is breathtaking. You don’t need a 4×4 to get there, but the road turns to gravel, with a few steep sections on the way up.
Yardie Creek – Yardie Creek, located in Cape Range National Park, is a beautiful limestone canyon with a gentle stream flowing through it. It is a great place for a boat trip, where you can enjoy the spectacular scenery and learn something about the local history.
Several hiking trails run along the top of the canyon walls, offering spectacular views of the canyon and the creek below.
Turquoise Bay is a beach that lives up to its name! Known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia, Turquoise Bay is a paradise not to be missed during your stay in the north.
In addition to the pristine white sand beach, there is a beautiful coral reef in Turquoise Bay, just steps from the shore. Dive into the water and be surrounded by turtles, fish and beautiful coral just minutes from the beach. The photo above shows how close the coral reef is to the shore.
Due to the current, this area is considered a drift snorkeling area, which means you get carried away and end up in a different place than where you started. Experienced swimmers may only snorkel here, as the currents can sometimes be quite strong.
Vlamingh Head Lighthouse – A lighthouse with over 100 years of history and breathtaking panoramic views. A 15-minute drive north of Exmouth, this historic lighthouse sits atop a hill with breathtaking views of the Northwest Cape, the Indian Ocean and Ningaloo Reef. It is a particularly comfortable place to sit and watch the sun set behind the horizon.
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